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What is Traffic Shaping and Why Do I Need It?

What is traffic shaping?

Traffic shaping, generally over a broadband, DSL, or cable connection, involves limiting total bandwidth use except voice to 90% of the connection.

Traffic Shaping 101: pie chart of how your web traffic should be segmented

Wait, what?

Let’s use an analogy to describe traffic shaping more.

Say you have a pipe that’s transmitting yellow dots. Suddenly you need to transmit a string of blue dots, and it’s important that these dots stay together (this is your voice call). If the pipe is full, it will be hard to let the blue dots in together and at a quick enough time. However, if a small portion of the pipe is segmented just for blue dots, like a commuter or transit lane on the highway, then the blue dots will be transmitted in one whole string.

Traffic Shaping 101: your data in a pipe without shaping

When you listen to a voice call, you’re processing the information instantaneously, so if you miss a couple seconds you won’t understand what is going on in the conversation. Have you ever been on a phone call and it’s cut out for a couple of seconds? This is because voice calls are transmitted in small chunks of data called “packets”, so a packet must have gotten lost on it’s way to you.

Traffic Shaping 101: how your voice data gets mangled without shaping

That’s why it’s important to have some of your bandwidth saved just for voice. It doesn’t matter what order the letters in an email come in because you receive the full email message at once, not word by word, but for a phone call you need to hear everything in order and right after the other, otherwise you’d have no idea what’s being said!

Is traffic shaping usually already set up out of the box?

Most Versature clients come to us with no traffic shaping in place. During our Provisioning process, we configure a wireless router for you (or give you information on how to set up your own router) set up for VoIP with traffic shaping. This can also be done by our Support team after the Provisioning process if you move locations, add another router, or change routers.

If you’re unsure about whether traffic shaping is available on your current router, our Sales team will include our recommended router in your quote so that there aren’t any additional cost surprises after you begin the Provisioning process.

Where do I need traffic shaping?

Traffic shaping should be set up in any location where you’ll be using your VoIP phones. This includes your main office and any satellite offices your employees might be using, including home offices. Not to worry though, our Support team can help set up traffic shaping at any location for you and your team.

Does traffic shaping affect any of my other internet activity?

Nope! You won’t even notice the difference! Voice packets are very small, so 10% of your connection is more than enough for all of your calling to go through seamlessly. It’s more that they need to go through together and at a fast speed, like taking the highway.

Traffic Shaping 101: segmenting your data with traffic shaping allows voice to go through together and quickly

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“Experiencing… than… call quality? Maybe… book a demo… Versature… provisioning… process…”

“Sorry, you’re cutting out. Maybe you should book a demo with Versature and get yourself set up with perfect VoIP quality.”

“Yeah… idea!”


About Adam Sherman

Adam Sherman is a co-founder and CTO of Versature. He brings 20 years of experience in various technology leadership roles in the key functional areas of system administration, product management, and software development. Adam is responsible for defining and executing on the Versature technology vision including creating an exceptional user experience, developing highly competitive and innovative products, and managing the constantly evolving Versature platform. He is a technology visionary and oversees the work of the Versature development, technology and network operations teams. Adam has been featured by the CBC and in the Globe and Mail as an executive who has risen to the top of their game through business savvy and hard work combined with his dedication to Sauvetage Bénévole Outaouais - Ottawa Volunteer Search and Rescue (SBO-OVSAR) acting as their Director of Operations.